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News > World

Panama Papers in Latin America: 8 Key Facts We Know so Far

  • Various Latin American leaders, including Argentina's Mauricio Macri, and Peru's Keiko Fujimori, have been linked to the Panama Papers.

    Various Latin American leaders, including Argentina's Mauricio Macri, and Peru's Keiko Fujimori, have been linked to the Panama Papers. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 May 2016

Argentina's Macri has been the Latin American leader most closely linked to the Panama Papers so far, but more details will come to light with the new leak.

Another major Panama Papers data drop is set to release information this Monday on more than 200,000 offshore companies set up through Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm that shot into the spotlight last month for its role in helping world leaders, wealthy elites, and celebrities hide their riches in shell businesses and tax havens.

Panama Papers

As the world awaits the new data release, here’s what we know so far about the major Latin American figures implicated in money laundering and tax evasion through what’s being described as the largest leak in the history of data journalism.

1. Argentina: President Mauricio Macri Hid Wealth in Tax Havens

Argentine President Mauricio Macri was at the center of the Panama Papers as one of the 12 current and former heads of state directly implicated in the scandal in the initial leak. Macri and his father and brother were directors of an offshore shell company in the Bahamas up until 2009, which the president failed to disclose when he was the mayor of Buenos Aires.

2. Brazil: Eduardo Cunha Bribed with Tax-evading Funds

Eduardo Cunha, leader of the impeachment attempt against President Dilma Rousseff and speaker of the lower house until he was suspended on May 5, received bribes from offshore sources involved in Brazil’s Petrobras state oil corruption scandal, the Panama Papers showed.

In 2011, the owner of a 14-company offshore conglomerate through Mossack Fonseca funded bribes of US$1.5 million for Cunha. The corrupt, laundered money wound up in a secret Swiss bank account in Cunha’s name after passing through another bank account owned by an ally of Cunha’s PMDB party.

3. Peru: Presidential Hopeful Keiko Fujimori Bankrolled by Offshore Money

Key financial backers of Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former dictator Alberto Fujimori and candidate in the presidential runoff, hid laundered funds in offshore tax havens and shell companies. One major financier, Jorge Yoshiyama Saski, operates various offshore accounts and funnelled over US$113,000 into Fujimori’s 2011 and 2016 presidential campaigns. Aside from Fujimori, three other presidential candidates in the first round were implicated in the Panama Papers, including Fujimori’s runoff rival Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

4. Mexico: President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Friend and Financier Hid Money

Juan Armando Hinojosa, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s so-called “favorite contractor,” fled a corruption scandal in Mexico involving the First Lady’s mansion by hiding assets in a complicated offshore network as a client of Mossack Fonseca. Hinojosa set up nine entities in the name of his elderly mother and mother-in-law beginning in 2015. Through the scheme, Hinojosa hid and evaded taxes on some US$100 million of his wealth.

5. Chile: Pinochet Police-Linked Business Implicated in Scandal

Alfredo Ovalle Rodriguez, a business elite with links to Chile’s Pinochet-era Secret Police and U.S.-backed dirty war on dictatorship opponents, laundered money and evaded taxes in offshore entities. Through a shell company, he and an associate made investments, hid wealth, and set up secret bank accounts to deposit investment earnings.

6. Colombia: Son of Paramilitary Mastermind Evaded Taxes Offshore

Hollman Carranza, son of the late emerald mining tycoon Victor Carranza, who is considered to be one of the architects of Colombian paramilitarism, appears in the Panama Papers among 850 Colombians implicated.

7. Venezuela: Fugitive Banker Given Asylum in US Opened Offshore Accounts

Eligio Cedeño, a wanted banker granted asylum in the United States after he fled corruption charges in Venezuela in 2009, appeared in the Panama Papers. It remains unclear how many offshore accounts Cedeño controlled or what he did with his hidden funds.

8. Ecuador: President Rafael Correa Mentioned, Not Implicated in Scandal

A leaked email from Mossack Fonseca stated that there was not any evidence linking President Rafael Correa and his estranged brother to an offshore account. Ecuador’s Attorney General Galo Chiriboga, former Central Bank chief Pedro Delgado, and former national intelligence member Javier Molina were named in the offshore data leak. Correa has called for the release of all documents of the Panama Papers, calling the “selective” fight against corruption just a continuation of corruption.

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